Kammer Klang - Charlie Wright's, London 27/01/09.

Kammer Klang’s objective, to explore the “ever blurring boundaries at the edge of contemporary classical music” seeks to challenge existing musical forms with a progressive intention. Their success lay in the delivery as much as the product.

Scott Lygate’s performance of Harald Genzmer’s bass clarinet solo sonata communicated the vitality and inexhaustible imagination of its composer. Lygate expressed Genzmer’s distinctive representation of elegance touched by an illustrative compassion.

 Steve Riech’s Grammy Award winning composition, Different Trains, received a penetrating recital by the Kammer Klang string quartet. Reich’s distinctive looped tape recording bore hypnotically into the audience’s consciousness as train whistles, pistons, screaming breaks and human dialogue combined to intense and harrowing effect. The melodic lines, though sharp, tangential and leaden with harmonic tension, were executed with sensitivity to the emotional undercurrents woven into the composition.    

London Jazz Orchestra The Vortex, London, 13 January 2009

This Sunday afternoon performance at the Vortex showcasing the work of longstanding LJO member Henry Lowther was about one thing and one thing only, a love of music. Featuring a line-up including long-time members Pete Hurt and Martin Hathaway on saxophone, alongside high calibre musicians such as bassist Alec Dankworth, alto saxophonist Martin Speake, drummer Paul Clarvis, and of course composer and trumpeter Lowther himself, the gig pulled in a packed house.

Despite starting late, Alec Dankworth turned up just before kickoff, MD and composer Scott Stroman quickly got things underway. Beginning with Wayne Shorter tribute ‘WS’, with exceptional tenor saxophone by Josephine Davis, the band soon found their feet. Particular highpoints included Lowther compositions ‘Can’t Believe, Won’t Believe’ a musical fanfare that segued into a blinding ‘Veneer of the Week’, a new composition written especially for the performance in the form of a musical palindrome, and a second tribute and set highlight, ‘Divine Revelation’ by Andrew Hill. Played with passion and spark, this mixed bunch of musicians and composers, both young and old, thrilled regulars and new comers alike. As first performances go, despite being standard big band bebop fare, this was the perfect way to introduce a LJO Sunday residency over the coming months. Next stop, Pete Hurt on 1 February.

Review - Paul Reaney

Robert Glasper - 18/11/08 Cargo, LJF

Following his acclaimed LP In my Element released on Blue Note last year, and a string of gigs that have left ears reeling, the pianist Robert Glasper has cultivated a formidable reputation in a short space of time. Playing with his trio under the brick arches of Shoreditch’s Cargo and as part of the welcome new Edge ’08 fringe festival, Glasper offered proof, if more was needed, of the vitality and relevance of jazz music in 2008.

Milton Nascimento - 20/11/08 RFH, LJF

“Everything I am mentally, physically, spiritually resides in Minas.” Milton Nascimento made this existential declaration several years ago. The implication was that his music, famous for cross-genre pollination, was a product of growing up in a town in which musical categories were overlooked. It was a disappointment therefore that this concert was so narrow in its interpretation of Bossa Nova. Given that this Nascimento-Jobim Trio (made a quartet for this occasion) project is in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of this genre, it was an opportunity to showcase how the music has developed and what awaits us in the future. To the detriment of this performance, such a direction was sorely missed.

Nikki Yeoh - Write Stuff Workshop - Bue Room, LJF 2008

Sitting in the blue room on the South Bank’s spirit level, British Jazz pianist Nikki Yeoh was full of energy despite the fact that it was a Sunday morning. Her deep purple satin dress and sparkly jewellery hinted at the personality that her beaming smile could not hide. Yeoh, who is of English and Malaysian descent, may be at home in South London but her charm and talent has taken her around the world, tinkling the ivories in Europe, India, Latin America, Cuba and Japan. Her influences are as diverse drawing upon hip-hop, funk, pop and classical music. But wherever and whatever Yeoh plays, it is on her terms.

The Write Stuff

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